What is dry eyes?

    What is dry eye?

    Dry eye is a chronic condition and it affects over 1 in 3 people.

    The surface of your eye has to be extremely thin and fragile to allow light through it. This delicate covering is constantly exposed to the elements, like dust or chemicals in the air. Your eyes need constant lubrication to clean them and prevent irritation. This is provided by a constant film of tears in your eye.

    Each time the eye blinks, the eyelid spreads tears across the surface of the eye to create this film. The film helps to reduce the evaporation of moisture from the eye, helping it stay hydrated.

    What are the types of dry eye?

    There are two main types of dry eye.

    • Aqueous dry eye - when you don't produce enough tears
    • Evaporative dry eye - when a gap in the protective tear film allows moisture to be lost. This is the most common type, accounting for 80% of dry eye cases.

    What are the main causes?

    • Screen usage - Almost half of computer users have symptoms of dry eye. This is largely because you blink much less often when using a computer.
    • Inflammation - of the surface layer due to allergy or infection
    • Central heating and air conditioning- these dry out the air so reduce moisture in the eyes
    • Being in a dry, dusty or windy area.
    • Not blinking enough- When you stare at your computer screens or TV for a long time your rate of blinking reduces by up to 60%. This reduces the spread of tears across your eye leading to damage to the protective lipid layer over the eye.
    • Ageing- We tend to make fewer tears as we get older so as you age you are likely to be affected more. For women, hormonal changes during the menopause can also lead to more frequent dry eyes.
    • Some medications can cause eyes to feel dry as a side effect or make existing dry eye condition worse (e.g. beta blockers, the pill and antihistamines)

    What are the symptoms?

    Your eyes may feel dry, irritated & uncomfortable. You may experience a gritty, burning sensation when you blink although dry eye should not cause significant pain. This condition usually affects both eyes together but your vision should remain normal. Symptoms often worsen as the day goes on.

    What can I do about it?

    Eye drops, containing ingredients such as sodium hyaluronate are recommended by the College of Optometrists. Optrex offers several eye drops containing this ingredient, such as Optrex Double Action Drops.

    Liposomal sprays are also strongly recommended by for evaporative dry eye by the College of Optometrists. These work with the natural blink of the eye to distribute lipids across the tear film on the eye’s surface to help tackle the root cause of evaporative dry eye.

    Optrex's liposomal spray is called Actimist for Dry and Irritated eyes. It can be sprayed on closed eyes to repair the eye’s natural protective tear film. It is a convenient way to help hydrate dry eyes and lock moisture in.  

    Both Optrex Actimist spray and Optrex Double Action drops are preservative free and suitable for contact lenses.

    Top tips to help relieve dry eyes

    • Drink plenty of water - this helps keep your whole body, including your eyes, hydrated.
    • If you work at a computer then remember to take regular breaks and blink as often as you can.
    • If possible try turning the heating or air con down a bit to avoid drying out your eyes.
    • Try to keep your workplace well ventilated. If this is difficult then keep a bowl of water nearby (preferably by the heater if it's on) to increase the humidity in the room.
    • If you wear contact lenses try to apply Optrex ActiMist™ Eye Spray for Dry & Irritated Eyes or Optrex Intensive Eye Drops for dry eyes regularly even before the eye feels irritated.
    • Try applying a hot compress to the eyes to help stimulate the tear ducts to produce more tears.


    Always read the instructions. Products listed above are medical devices.